Buying authentic Japanese food that isn’t sushi can be a struggle, even here in London. Finding some ingredients at all can feel like a non-starter. And even when you can find them, you might be left paying outrageous prices for your favourite treats. Fortunately, there are a few specialist supermarkets, with a wide range of Japanese staples at relatively affordable prices. Here’s our guide to the best (and cheapest) places to buy Japanese groceries in London.
Rice Wine Shop, Soho
If you’re looking for Japanese supplies in Central London, this Soho hidden gem should probably be your first stop. The small shop is absolutely packed with essentials. Prices are fairly reasonable, and there’s the added advantage of having everything in one place (with backup shops close at hand). Here’s a just quick list of things you’ll find there:
- Imported rice
- Katsuobushi (shaved bonito)
- Dashi (stock)
- Specialty noodles
- Curry and stew roux blocks
- Gobou (burdock)
- Takoyaki and okonomiyaki mixes
- Kewpie mayo
- Okonomiyaki, yakisoba and tonkatsu sauces
- Frozen korokke
- Frozen meat for shabu shabu
- Tsukemono (pickles)
- Snacks and crisps
Unsurprisingly it’s a good spot to buy sake too. The store specialises in nihonshu (Japanese rice wine). But there’s also shochu on offer.
Atariya in West Acton appears to have slipped through some kind of portal out of Tokyo and into London. We have to assume that in its place there’s now a very confused fish and chip shop operating somewhere in the suburbs of Tokyo.
There are actually several Atariya food stores—West Acton, Kingston, Finchley and Golders Green. Each is roughly similar, with a handy selection of Japanese staples and hard-to-find veggies. They’re comfortably among the best places to buy Japanese groceries in London.
The real draw is the fish counter. Staffed by legit experts, they can hook you up with more or less any fish you need for your Japanese meal. From melt-in-your-mouth sushi-grade fish for sashimi to squid, urchins, roe and flavourful chirimen jako (dried baby sardines).
Apparently, they supply some of the city’s best known sushi spots, so you’re in good hands. If you want to skip the making stage, you can order prepared sushi to eat-in or take-away at very reasonable prices. We’ve also seen premium beef for sukiyaki on offer. Something to consider if you’re looking to push the boat out!
Japan Centre, Soho
Just off Leicester Square, Japan Centre is certainly London’s fanciest Japanese supermarket. They stock a good range of high-end groceries. It’s great for that last ingredient in a pinch, but it does tend to be on the pricier end. You’ve been warned!
There’s a staffed fish counter with a small range of sushi-grade fish too—enough to put together a decent spread if you’re looking to impress your friends. The bustling canteen area can also be a good spot to sit down and enjoy freshly made food. All at a fraction of the price of a more traditional Japanese restaurant.
Ichiba, Shepherd’s Bush
Billed as Europe’s biggest Japanese food hall, Ichiba is one sleek operation, with a dining area and a fairly large selection of groceries. It’s operated by the same folks behind Japan Centre. So unsurprisingly, the decent range of goods and classy store design come at a steep mark-up. That said, it’s a great spot to swing by for a treat after an outing to the shopping Mecca that is Westfield.
For lunch, the dining area is actually pretty reasonably priced, and offers some options you don’t often see in the UK (anyone for takoyaki?). It’s a canteen-style affair, with counter service and a surprisingly broad array of options. In our experience, the soba, okonomiyaki and yakisoba are better than the ramen, which can’t stand up to many of London’s increasingly good ramen venues.
Loon Fung, Soho
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Loon Fung branch in London, you’ll never want for Asian cuisine. While the focus is on Chinese produce, it’s a good spot to by Japanese groceries in London too. Loon Fung was among the most competitive stores we visited for miso, tofu and gyoza skins. The on-site butchers and fishmongers are generally geared toward meat for Chinese dishes. Luckily, some of that translates to Japanese cooking too. You’ll often see cuts of meat and offal useful for yakitori (skewered chicken) or yakiton (skewered pork).
Asian vegetables are also a steal here. If you’re after takenoko (young bamboo shoots), napa cabbage, gobou (burdock) or mushrooms like shiitake and enoki, Loon Fung is a safe bet. Need something to cook them in? The woks and bamboo steamers are practically wholesale cheap. Aside from that, the store boasts a strong snack game, with Japanese crisps and sweets galore.
Stores are in Soho, Tottenham, Stratford Alperton and Colindale.
New Loon Moon, Soho
Another Chinese supermarket, New Loon Moon is just opposite Loon Fung. That makes the two great backup options for each other if your first pick happens not to stock what you’re looking for. It’s one of our favourite shops in Chinatown, with witty staff and shelves absolutely packed with treats from China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea.
New Loon Moon’s Japanese options up on the first floor are slightly limited, but include basic cooking supplies and a selection of roux blocks. Some of the veggies and spices downstairs are useful in Japanese cooking too. Their instant ramen game is also strong, with several interesting brands and flavours from Japan and the rest of Asia.
This upmarket Soho spot focuses more on Korean food (perfect if you’re craving the ramdon noodles from Parasite). But there’s some space dedicated to Japanese staples too—including sauces, roux, condiments and more. There’s also some crossover when it comes to Japanese and Korean cuts of meat and fish, which are largely sold frozen here.
Japanese Kit Kats: You can order them online from Doko Demo.
Looking for recipe ideas? Our friends in Tokyo share their favourite Japanese one-burner meal ideas.